In part II of this work I will focus on the Book of Ether and how it exists as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not made up while it was dictated, and its complexity suggests that more than a simple genealogical outline would be necessary to accomplish the task of dictating the Book of Ether. I will be using the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon in this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1994). The evidence from the Book of Ether, as well as evidence analyzed in Part I and in future installments of this series, will help support the likelihood that Joseph Smith did in fact translate the Book of Mormon from an ancient record.
1. THE GENEALOGY OF ETHER: The Book of Ether follows the history of a people (known as the Jaredites) who left for the Americas soon after the corrupting of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni abridges this book from 24 plates hidden by the prophet Ether, found by King Limhi, the son of King Noah. In Ether 1:6-32, Moroni gives the genealogy of Ether, the last Prophet among the Jaredites, all the way back to Jared, the first to arrive to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. Moroni gives 30 names for the genealogy, stating simply:
“He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor. Coriantor was the son of Moron. And Moron was the son of Ethem. And Ethem was the son of Ahah. And Ahah was the son of Seth. And Seth was the son of Shiblon. And Shiblon was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah. And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom. And Hearthom was the son of Lib. And Lib was the son of Kish. And Kish was the son of Corom. And Corom was the son of Levi. And Levi was the son of Kim. And Kim was the son of Morianton. And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish. And Riplakish was the son of Shez. And Shez was the son of Heth. And Heth was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Emer. And Emer was the son of Omer. And Omer was the son of Shule. And Shule was the son of Kib. And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared.” (Ether 1:6-32).
The Book of Ether then goes on to describe the history and wars of the Jaredites, and it follows this exact genealogy in reverse order, starting with Jared and then ending with Ether.
Ether 6:14 “And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.”
Ether 7:3 “And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.”
Ether 7:7 “nevertheless, Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.”
Ether 8:1 “And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.”
Ether 9:14 “And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he appointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.”
Ether 9:21 “And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.”
Ether 9:25 “And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.”
Ether 10:1 “And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth-for Heth had perished by the famine and all his household save it were Shez…”
Ether 10:4 “And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish.”
Ether 10:9 “And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton (he being a descendant of Riplakish)…”
Ether 10:13 “And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father.”
Ether 10:14 “And he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi”
Ether 10:16 “and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.”
Ether 10:17 “and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.”
Ether 10:18 “And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.”
Ether 10:29 “And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.”
Ether 10:31 “And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.”
Ether 11:4 “And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom” (there seems to be an error here, as the genealogy in Ether 1 says “Shiblon.” This is most likely an error made in the original writing or the printer’s manuscript. This error was not corrected in the 1981 edition.
Ether 11:9 “And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity…”
Ether 11:10 “And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom…”
Ether 11:11 “And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom.”
Ether 11:14 “And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron.”
Ether 11:18 “Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.”
Ether 11:23 “And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.”
In addition to following the genealogy given in Ether 1, the Book of Ether speaks of many other sons and descendants of that are not found in the genealogy of Ether 1. This only adds to the complexity of an already complex family line. Not only does it write the history of a list of 30 people in reverse chronology, but he also includes the descendants and sons/daughters of these individuals as well. For example, after Orihah begat Kib, Kib begat Corihor (Ether 7:3). Corihor is not mentioned in the original genealogy, but he plays a significant part in the chapter as he overthrows his father, who then has a son named Shule (part of the genealogy of Ether 1) while in captivity (Ether7:7). The writer then goes on to describe the genealogy of Corihor, who is overthrown by Shule (Ether 7:9), but has a son named Noah who rebels with his brother Cohor (Ether 7:15). Noah is killed and then the son of Noah, whose name is Cohor, takes over part of the kingdom (Ether 7:20). Cohor is slain, and his son Nimrod gives up the kingdom to Shule (Ether 7:21-22).
These multiple story-lines continue in Ether 8 when Shule begat Omer (part of Ether’s genealogy) and Omer begat Jared (not part of the genealogy) (Ether 8:1). Omer has two sons named Esrom and Coriantumr, who take back the kingdom (Ether 8:4-6). Akish, the son of Kimnor, then plots with Jared to killer Omer (Ether 8:10-14). Omer escapes, then Akish kills Jared and takes over the kingdom (Ether 9:3-5). Then Akish kills his son, and his brother flees with others to Omer, and Akish gives battle to his sons (Ether 9:7-13). Omer is restored to the throne, and then he has a son named Emer, finally reaching the next in the line of Ether’s ancestors (Ether 9:14). Adding in these story-lines and additional descendants and families not mentioned in Ether 1:6-32 would have confused someone who was making it up as they went along, and would require an extremely detailed and lengthy outline to account for all of the events and the accuracy with which the genealogy is followed in the Book of Ether.
The Book of Ether goes on for roughly 30 pages, and includes the writings of Moroni, the visions of the Brother of Jared, the method used to travel to the Americas, the rise and fall of kings, and the battles that took place in ancient America. In addition, the story of the Book of Ether is referenced in other portions of the Book of Mormon (see Omni 1:21-22/Mosiah 8:7-11/Alma 37:21-32). It would require superhuman ability to recount the genealogy provided in Ether 1:6-32 in reverse order and include separate genealogies, interjections by the narrator, and other story arcs in the manner of translation often mocked by critics. The incredible amount of detail suggests that a complex outline would be required in order to have dictated such a history, in addition to the overall narrative outline found in part I of this series, and the complex writings of Alma 36 and Jacob 5, which I will review in future installments. Since no witnesses saw Joseph with an outline (and if he had the whole story of the Book of Mormon previously written on pages and pages of guiding outlines, why did he need scribes to write his dictation?), it is unlikely that Joseph had such an all-encompassing outline at his disposal while dictating the translation.
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